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Tuesday, September 23, 2014         

KOKUA LINE


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Late delivery of water bills is blamed on postal service

By June Watanabe

POSTED:



Question: I received my Board of Water Supply bill on the same day the bill was due. I checked the envelope for the date when the bill was mailed out only to find the presorted first-class block with no date stamped anywhere. There was also no date for when the mail may have been processed by the postal service. How am I supposed to track down when the bill was mailed and whether it was sent out late from BWS or if the delay was due to the postal service?

Question: On June 13 I received our bimonthly Board of Water Supply bill in the mail and was unpleasantly surprised to see that it was due on that same day! When I phoned BWS' billing department, the customer representative said the mainland company that had been hired to process billing for BWS was responsible for the untimely transmission. The customer rep said that we were the seventh account so far that he knew about that had been affected by this situation. What does BWS intend to do about this? Why are we paying tax money to an out-of-state company that apparently can't process and mail BWS bills in a timely manner?

Answer: It took a while for the Board of Water Supply to determine exactly why so many bills weren't received until the day they were due.

It wasn't the fault of the mainland company, which "confirmed that it printed and mailed out all BWS bills in a timely manner," said BWS spokeswoman Tracy Burgo.

The fault was with the U.S. Postal Service.

"Something happened to delay its delivery to each intended recipient," Burgo said. "Unfortunately," the Postal Service "is unable to determine what caused the delay and have acknowledged that this is a very rare incident."

Customers were given a 10-day grace period after the due date to make a payment "that will not be deemed late," she said. Additionally, customer service representatives would not initiate collection actions for customers who received bills on the day they were due.

BWS began using the mainland vendor in March 2007 "as it was found to be the most efficient (way) to meet our billing operation needs," Burgo said. BWS is "satisfied" with its services for printing, stuffing and mailing out the bills.

Q: Are paperless firecrackers legal, and, if so, can anyone set them off, or do you need a permit to play? Is the permit for buying the firecrackers only? If you had some leftover firecrackers, can you play them without a permit?

A: Under the new city law that took effect in January, a permit is required to buy -- and set off -- any kind of firecracker.

A firecracker is defined as a "single paper cylinder not exceeding one and one-half inches in length, excluding the fuse, and one-quarter of an inch in diameter and containing a charge of not more than 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic composition," the Honolulu Police Department told us.

"Paperless describes the absence of debris when the item is discharged," a spokesman said. If it meets the definition of firecracker before discharge, "it is a firecracker."

Setting off firecrackers from a previous holiday would be illegal since the permit for doing so would have expired.

For more information, go to www.honolulupd.org/community/fireworksinfo/index.htm.

MAHALO

To Elaine in customer service and Gerald, a manager, at the Kmart on Nimitz Highway, for going above and beyond the call of duty to help recover my stolen gift card. I am very grateful. Mahalo also to the Community Action Program in Kalihi for all the hard work they do to help people with their electric bills. -- Jim C.


Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.






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